A winner by design

May. 01, 2013 @ 05:06 AM

When Dustin Cook began designing houses on his computer game, he had no idea where it would lead him.

“When I was little, we had the Sims game you play on the computer. I used to always just design a house and I never played the game,” Cook said.

Cook’s love for designing houses has helped him become a key member of the SkillsUSA Club at R-S Central High School, and take home first place in Architectural Drafting during the 2013 North Carolina SkillsUSA State Conference that was held April 24-26 in Greensboro.

For the competition, Cook was given the task to design a cabin for a youth group.

“They wanted a cabin that was going to be at a lake where you could take groups of about 16 kids. They wanted four bedrooms and two bathrooms. They told you all the details they wanted and then told you to design it,” Cook said.

Cook was given a three-and-a-half hour time limit to complete his floor plan, foundation plan, door and window schedules and exterior elevations. The contest had 40 participants from across North Carolina.

Cook designed his cabin with three sections.

“There’s a living room and kitchen section in the middle and then bedrooms on each side. The four corners each have a bedroom. The living room and the bathroom kind of divide everything up,” Cook said.

For winning first place, Cook received a plaque, a medal, a computer bag and a t-shirt.

“I was excited. Of course, when I finished I was kind of thinking that I did pretty good. I was hoping that I got in the top five,” Cook said. “For the awards, they call the top five up to the stage and they line you up fifth through first. I was really excited then because I knew I had won.”

Cook, who is now a senior at R-S Central, began taking drafting classes his sophomore year.

“I never really thought about it too much before but I’ve always been good at geometry and that’s kind of what Drafting 1 and engineering has a lot to do with. I took Drafting 1 my sophomore year and really liked it, so I just stuck with all of them,” Cook said. “I’ve always liked designing houses and things, that’s why I went into architecture. It’s always been pretty easy and I’ve always just thought about other houses that I’ve seen because I have a pretty good memory, so i just go from there.”

He is now in an Architectural honors class taught by Brad Hutchins, who is also a SkillsUSA advisor.

“Dustin is very talented and creative. What he did for a three-and-a-half hour time limit is pretty impressive,” Hutchins said. “I have a great group of kids this year and I think we have been very successful as a whole.”

The class uses the software SoftPlan to design their projects. For the competition, Cook got to use his own laptop and software.

“It’s got all the buttons you need. You click a button that says wall and you pick which wall you need and draw the wall. It’s got buttons for each symbol like a toilet or a cabinet or sinks or anything else,” Cook said.

Cook will now go on to represent North Carolina in the Achitectural Drafting event at the SkillsUSA National Conference in Kansas City, Mo. June 24-29.

“I’m excited and kind of nervous too. We are flying there which also makes me a little more nervous because I’ve never flown before,” Cook said.

“Nationals is a big opportunity for us to go out there and compete with the best and see how they do things,” Hutchins said.